Headlines: July 15th, 1999

The Audit Commission found that not enough progress had been made in implementing ‘Misspent Youth’ its 1996 report on youth justice. The issues identified in the report such as low levels of prosecution, insufficient attention given to prevention of offences and addressing offending behaviour as well as lack of co-ordination between agencies, all   need renewed effort. Agencies need to make substantial changes to meet the standards flowing from the Crime and Disorder Act.

Although audits of local criminal justice agencies in 1998 show improvements in most of these areas, much remains to be done. Only 4 per cent of offenders are given ‘caution plus’ programmes, which will shortly be introduced everywhere as ‘final warnings’. Around half of authorities do not have an established bail support scheme and mental healthcare is difficult to obtain in two-thirds of authorities.

The Audit Commission has now handed over responsibility for monitoring progress to the new Youth Justice Board for England and Wales. The Board was set up under the Crime and Disorder Act, and is responsible for leading reforms to the youth justice system.